Doing anything worthwhile is hard. I’m trying to write a book about UBER at the moment, and despite the fact I have been researching it for over a year ~ the project seems even bigger and harder than when I first took it on. I never wanted to be an author. In the early 2000’s I started blogging and a few of my posts were quite successful and ended up being made into books. (Sex, Brands & Rock’n’Roll and Survival to Significance). I just like writing. To make sense of things for myself mostly. But turning a long series of blog posts into a book isn’t actually that hard.
Writing regular blog posts is hard. Trying to lose a few pounds on #Leanin15 is hard. Learning new stuff is hard. Trying to write talks that people might want to listen to is hard. Trying to keep the attention of any audience while you try and do any of those things is almost impossible.
That’s why people get scared and they don’t start things. Or at least if they start them with a half baked effort, they don’t end up finishing them.
It’s for this reason that there are a few people who I always think about when I’m looking at a new project which seems big and scary:
What an odd bunch of people. A pastor, a sports coach and a fictional journalist. But in my mind, there’s something special that ties them all together.
John Maxwell wrote one of the best books on daily discipline I’ve ever read ~ Today Matters. In it he talks about how you need to break down big complicated tasks around the things that drive you. The things you are good at. Don’t ever focus on your weaknesses. Only focus on your strengths. And to do this, you need some discipline around a daily routine. In the book, John explains that he manages to accomplish everything that he needs to by reciting a personal manta every morning. It is a series of sentences, every one of which begins with “Just for today…”.
Dave Brailsford teaches professional athletes to not get overwhelmed by large projects. It could be the world championships. It could be the Olympics. Each year for a few very lucky and dedicated riders, it would be the Tour de France. I heard Dave teach a lesson on leadership last year and he said the places where most people go wrong, is that they try to plan big things and they soon get overwhelmed by the task that is ahead of them. Instead, Dave suggested that a better approach is not to look at the big macro picture, but the very small micro one. Don’t say, “I’m going to lose 10kg with my amazing 100 day fitness plan“. Just eat healthy today. Don’t make an 18 month plan for writing your first book. Just write 1 blog post about it today. Just for today…
Charlie Skinner is one of the main characters in one of my favourite TV shows, the Newsroom written by my favourite screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin. The show because famous for the incredible first 8 minutes of the pilot episode, but hidden in this trailer was (in my opinion anyway) the best line of the whole show ~ “In the old days we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to“.
We just decided to.
Big projects are big. And they are scary because they are big. Most of them never get finished because they are so big and so scary.
But in my experience, the ones that do get done (especially the ones that get done well), are the ones who are run by people who didn’t spend too much time obsessing over the huge planning process. Instead, each morning they just looked at something small that was achievable that day, and then they just decided to…